– MOM, LISTEN TO ME!
Unfortunately, I hear these four words almost daily from either one of my kids. Often, I’m so absorbed with what I’m doing that I hadn’t even realized they were talking to me until they utter them. Sometimes, I actually am listening to them, but get frustrated because I don’t understand what they’re talking about (mostly with my 2 and 4 year olds) so I tune them out or ask them to go do something else. Other times, I outright refuse to hear them out (usually when I think that what they have to say involves tattle-tailing, when I am pressed for time or when I’m smack dab in the middle of tantrum-central).
When I’m at home with the kids, I’m always preoccupied by a whole bunch of thoughts. You know what it’s like, right? It just. Never. Stops. The well-oiled routine-machine drives my days as smoothly as they can be driven with four young children running about. And lets face it, there’s always something to do. Between nursing, snacks, meals, naps, laundry, school drop-off and tidying up, I’m almost always doing something and I almost always have a limited window of opportunity to do that “something”.
Taking that into account, it’s little wonder that I don’t always listen to what the kids have to say. But at the same time, they deserve to be heard out. While I can’t realistically give them my undivided attention all the time, I can strive for balance and try to listen (really listen) to them more even if it means being subjected to some prime kindersplaining (that would be the kindergartener equivalent of mansplaining).
Yesterday, I really made an effort and gave it a try throughout the day. For instance, when my son asked me if he could go play outside in front of the house, I said no. Our front yard isn’t fenced, it’s Winter, the road in front of our house is super narrow because of the snow and there are really tall snowbanks. Charles immediately started crying. Usually, I would have given him a false choice (something to the tune of choosing between playing in the backyard or pouting in his room), but instead I decided to hear him out.
Lo and behold, not only was he able to clearly explain why he wanted to play out front absolutely (it’s the only spot where he can do some sledding), but he even explained how he would do it safely without being prompted to. We reached an agreement. He and his sister would play out front for 15 minutes and I would be watching them closely from the window. After that, they would play out back and I could start getting everything ready for supper while keeping an eye on them.
So this is my challenge for the next few weeks: taking the time to really listen to my kids when they talk to me.